Apartment dweller? Shoe box home? You can still entertain in your house, you just need these tips to help you make the most of your space – and help your guests feel less like they’re in a sardine can and more like they’re in a cozy mingling area.

Because of my husband’s profession, we move around a lot. We can up and move on a dime, and as a family we’ve got the technique down to an art. I’m the one in charge of finding a house in the new destination, and I’ve had my good moments and my bad moments.

Currently we live in what we affectionately call the “Postage Stamp”, “Bread Box” etc. and our 2 kids, 2 adults and 100 pound lab are always playing real life Tetris with items and people in our house, but I’m tired of packing and unpacking so here we stay – at least until we’re summoned to the next destination.

In our new city I’ve met a number of fantastic people though, and participate in a business group in which we meet in people’s homes. I’m the only one in the group who won’t have the meeting at our house – because it’s too small! Sounds familiar?

It wasn’t until a girlfriend said to me, “Yeah, you don’t have a lot of space, but look at your YARD” that I started thinking about alternative entertaining, and really making the most out of my small space while still enjoying entertaining my friends in my home. These tips have helped me immensely – hopefully they will help you make the most of your small space too!

1. Move the party outside

If you have space outside in the back yard or on a balcony, encourage your guests to make use of those spaces. Set up chairs on your balcony for smaller conversations and, in the case of an interactive murder mystery game, investigations. If weather permits, consider moving the party outside all together! Set up a food and drink table outside and allow your guests to mix and mingle in the yard instead of inside the house. Many mystery parties, like The Birthday Party Murder, have flexible plot locations and can easily be adjusted to make use of your space without endangering the integrity of the murder mystery (we are always here to help make suggestions on how to optimize your mystery for backyard or other venues). Make your yard area appealing for mingling by lighting candles, Tiki torches, hanging lights etc. For some great tips on entertaining outdoors, read 6 Tips for Throwing Outdoor Parties.

2. Keep it simple – the food, that is!

If your kitchen is on the smaller side (and whose kitchen is EVER big enough really!) choose a menu that is simple. A simple, smaller menu will help you keep the food coming, drinks flowing and mess to a minimum.

3. Declutter your furniture

Rid your party space of any furniture you don’t need for the party. For many of us, this can mean temporarily moving love seats to another room to make way for more chair seating or mingle space.

4. Mirror mirror on the wall…

Strategically place mirrors on larger walls to create the illusion of having more space in a small room. This simple technique helps people to relax in a small space – not to mention how handy they are for quick touch-ups or checking to make sure your dress is not tucked into your underwear.

5. Set up a buffet rather than a sit-down dinner area

A buffet-style food area will give you a space just for food, and you won’t have to worry about fitting everyone around a table. Tip: Make larger amounts of food and dishes that can sit out without spoiling so you don’t have to keep refilling the table.

6. At a dinner party, set your room up for a quick transition

Once, while throwing a Christmas dinner party, I set up a nice yet portable dining table in our teeny tiny living room. It looked great and was made of wood, but had screw-in legs. Once dinner was served, dessert devoured and coffee consumed, we broke the table apart in less than five minutes, stored it in the basement and created a relaxing mingle and rest space for our guests to spend the rest of the party. To make this work, have a plan ahead of time for tear-down so your guests don’t feel obligated to help. By the time they realize what has happened, the transition is complete!

7. Consider a “Progressive” party or Safari Supper

This is a great idea that we fully embrace. All you need is a few friends to participate. The idea is that each host plans a different course or section of the party, and the party moves from house to house. Obviously, you’ll want to save the alcoholic drinks for the last location so your guests won’t be drinking and driving or arrange car pooling. Your guests arrive at different venues at different times, and at the end the starting location hosts meet at the house of the person with the largest space.

8. Use walls and ceilings for decorations

When decorating for your party, whenever possible use your walls or hang things from your ceiling to create the ambience you desire without taking up extra space. A set of simple Christmas Tree Lights and some sheer fabric will do wonders for your party space without detracting from the limited space you have.

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